Aug. 14, 2008
I was watching the Olympics last night, and was struck by a number of things. When, exactly, did "beach volleyball" become an Olympic sport-and why isn't there any Kenny Loggins playing during the game? Is Michael Phelps really the guy from Waterworld? And most importantly, what is Visa thinking?
Their series of "Go World" commercials defy any sort of explanation. Narrated by Lucius Fox-err, Morgan Freeman-and put to music clearly lifted from an exhibit in Epcot Center, they strive to embody the very soppiest of Olympic-tide twattle.
We're told, "We don't always agree, but for a few shining weeks we set it all aside..." Right. Tell that to the people of Georgia. Freeman goes on, "[We] come together, and stand, and cheer, and celebrate, as one." We act as one. That's rich, given that the games are being hosted by the ideological step children of history's most bloodthirsty and murderous collectivist. "We forget all the things that make us different, and remember all the things that make us the same." I guess some people in the Chinese government missed the memo on that. Oops. We're lastly admonished to take up a new cheer: Go World.
Listen, I'm perfectly fine with athleticism for athleticism's sake. I think it's just great. I respected Curt Schilling pitching a masterful game seven in the 2004 ALCS with a torn up ankle-even though he was playing for a bunch of dirty Boston scrubs against the greatest team in the history of sports. In fact, Leon Kass and Eric Cohen recently had an excellent piece The New Republic on how the human good of pure athleticism is the benchmark ethical criterion for discussions of performance enhancement. This Visa campaign is not that. What we have here is trite utopian One-Worldery channeled into a sentimentalist corporate ad campaign. It would probably be par for the course with the Olympics, but given both the tense state of world affairs and the brutal tyranny of the Chinese Communist host regime it is not only in bad taste but is insulting.
The Chinese regime wants us to overlook their current despotic ways-and forget that these are but minor peccadilloes compared to the grievous sins of their not-so-distant past-amidst a tidal wave of artificial pomp and ginned-up false unity. The recently departed Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn warned us against that sort of historical amnesia, and it's a shame that Visa is willing to help us along that path. It didn't used to be that useful idiots and fellow travelers could count among their ranks international conglomerations. So much for the Running Dog...